On Their Best Behavior: Coping With the Kids in Public

baby reading

Reader Sarah with her bookworm-in-training.

You always hear about moms getting kicked out of coffee shops or stores for breastfeeding in public. But I recently read an article about a mom getting kicked out of the library because her baby made a noise. And not even a cry-noise. A coo. The mother in question was escorted out of the library by police and then arrested for obstruction because of what she said to the responding officer.

While smarting off to a cop in that situation is probably not the best move, I would probably have been pretty angry in that situation, too. Assuming that the library personnel requested that she leave because of a minor babble from the child and not a larger issue, I must say: That must be the quietest library in all of the land.

As a parent, it’s sometimes a little nerve-wracking to leave the house with your child. In the early days, my husband and I would get stressed going out to dinner with our daughter because we never knew when the little wild card would decide to have a poop explosion or decide it’s dinner time—and these incidents are almost always timed when it’s most inconvenient, just to keep you on your toes.

But because fear couldn’t keep us locked in our house forever, we venture out into the wide world. We’ve been lucky to avoid major meltdowns for the most part. And when we suspect that grumpitude (a grumpy attitude) is afoot, we act fast. As in, feed, hold or otherwise distract the grump. Worst case scenario? We pack up and leave the premises—stat. As I’ve said before, as long as the parents of a child are paying attention and trying to quiet a baby (or keep an older kiddo from tearing the establishment apart), I think people are pretty forgiving.

What do you do when your child has a meltdown in public? How do you cope when your baby cries in a quiet zone? —Erin




  1. Zarah says

    My solution? Just go to loud places. It doesn’t even have to be particularly kid friendly (a smoke-free sports bar, for example) but as long as the room is loud enough, no one will notice a 7 month old pounding gleefully on the table. Red Robin and Fuddrucker’s also get big points for having LOTS of things to look at – excellent for distracting the baby.

  2. Lisa @LisaVFitness says

    When I’m not being a mommy blogger, my day job is actually in the children’s department of a local library. I’m an Aide. And I must agree, this MUST be the quietest library in all of the land. Kids go ballistic in my department, and no one says a thing. For the most part, we’re all mothers and know that screaming happens. That’s what the kids department was created for–a place in the library where kids can enjoy books and still be, and behave like kids.

    I have a hard time believing that the baby was just cooing. There must have been complaints from other patrons, about the noise level. And another thing, the cops don’t get called for no reason. This woman obviously had other issues if the cops were called (i.e. mouthing off, or threatening library staff), as evident by the way she acted toward the officer. I have no sympathy for her.

  3. Erin says

    Zarah – Good point!
    Lisa – I agree there has to be more to the story. I was just in our library’s kids section yesterday and there was no shortage of kids running amok! I would imagine most libraries are pretty welcoming of kiddos (future readers, after all!). Who knows what the full story actually is!

  4. jla says

    Its too bad that society,s gotten so busy, fast and sort of intolerant so we can’t just let kids be kids. I understand parents’ concern about not causing scenes or disturbing others, but always distracting kids (much like we do ourselves) probably contributes a lot to weight and eating problems and also just makes us all less able to slow down and be less stressed out. The cycle needs to stop somewhere. We need a better syste, a different way of living maybe, to get beyond the bandaid solution of distraction for everyone. Just a crazy thought to maybe consider. I definitely wouldn’t place responsibility or blame on anyone perso. Im just arguing for a more humane, slower lifestyle, or to at least realize this one is a big cause of problems

  5. Carla says

    First of all, that library was way too strict! You want children around books as soon as possible. So, kudos to that mom. When my kids were very small, I took them to the library and my daughter, who was around 14 months, literally tore the place apart! I scrambled to get the books back on their shelves as quietly as possible, while she moved onto the next shelf! She was being very quiet, but hideously destructive! I was mortified and never took her to the library again until I could get her in a stroller, which was about 2 years down the road.

    When we were in the fit throwing stages, I would simply drop everything and leave the premises. If I was at the grocery store, we would go home and eat whatever we had already for dinner. I tried again after my husband got home and he could stay with the kids while I went by myself.

    There was one exception to this rule for me–church. I had one Mass when I could feel every eye in the congregation boring into the back of my head as I wrestled the same daughter for the entire Mass! She didn’t want to be there, and I knew if I took her out, she would win this battle- and this was an important battle for me to win. I cried after Mass and went home with my “tail between my legs”. The next day, we had some kind of fellowship meal at the parish and several, seasoned parents came up to me and said they understood and felt terrible for me, and that they would have been happy to take her for a while if I had only turned around to see their support! Sometimes other adults who are removed from the immediate situation can help. Parenting is not an individual sport. It takes a team effort!


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